The Reinvention of the American Amusement Park
As schools let out for the summer, millions of Americans will visit the more than 400 amusement parks spread throughout the country. But some are not the same parks you may have grown up with.
Amusement parks like Coney Island have a deep presence in American history, often inseparable from the technological innovations of the time and social expectations for recreation. Today, a series of theme parks offering augmented and virtual reality (VR) experiences are setting a new bar for immersive entertainment, shifting expectations of this classic space. One of these is Evermore, located in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Evermore opened its doors in late 2018 and is billed as an immersive experience for families. The 14-acre park is designed to look like a European hamlet, and it doesn't have rides; rather, guests become inhabitants of Evermore and full participants in fantastical adventures. Another "park" offering multi-sensory experiences is the Void. Advertised as "VR you can feel," it consists of several entertainment locations around the world. Guests enter the theatrical experience wearing VR headsets, and go on adventure quests like exploring ancient tombs or battling paranormal characters in Ghostbusters. Are these parks the new ideal in American amusement? And what do they reveal about society today?
Use the Instruction and Background Resources in the drop-down menu on the left to guide students' library or classroom research into the history of the amusement park in American culture. The Background Essay offers a wide-lens perspective on the development of amusement parks throughout American history. The additional reference entry tracks the growth of Disneyland in its appeal to American audiences and its impact on American family leisure time. The primary sources illustrate how amusement parks have evolved through time.
"The Reinvention of the American Amusement Park." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2152060. Accessed 15 Sept. 2019.
Entry ID: 2152060